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Largest private insurer to pay fine for shady practices

10/07/2013

By Gray Rohrer, the Current

Universal Property and Casualty Insurance Co., Florida’s largest private insurer with more than 542,000 policies and $745 million in written premiums, reached an agreement with state regulators to pay a $1.26 million fine, the state announced Monday.

The Office of Insurance Regulation imposed the fine in May, citing the company’s practice of requiring separate proof-of-loss statements for claims with multiple payments and post-claim underwriting through investigations of customers.

Insurance Consumer Advocate Robin Westcott recently cited the practice of searching for misstatements on the credit reports of customers who file claims, and said the practice should be singled out for stricter rules and laws to guard against post-claim underwriting.

The agreement requires Universal to conduct underwriting within 90 days of the effective date of a new policy and review the 262 previously denied claims.

Universal initially asked for a hearing to protest the fine, but now has agreed to pay it.